Reframing chapter 7 of the Corporations Act? ALRC corporations and financial services regulation review announced

The Australian Law Reform Commission has been tasked with conducting a three stage review of the legislative framework for corporations and financial services regulation. The final report is due 30 November 2023.

Key takeouts

  • The ALRC review will focus on three key areas: 1) the use and design of definitions in the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) and Corporations Regulations; 2) the legislative design and hierarchy of the Corporations Act; and 3) restructuring/reframing Chapter 7 of the Corporations Act.
  • Interim reports will be prepared on each of these three topics on a progressive basis from 30 November 2021.
  • The final report is due 30 November 2023.

Review announced

The government has directed the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) to conduct a review of the legislative framework for corporations and financial services regulation in line with the Hayne Commission's recommendations to simplify the legislative/regulatory framework.

Announcing the review, Attorney General Christian Mr Porter said:

'The government is asking the ALRC to undertake a review of the legislative framework for corporations and financial services regulation to identify ways to make it more adaptive, efficient and navigable for consumers and regulated entities. The review will provide a principled blueprint for a more efficient, navigable and adaptive legislative framework for corporations and financial services regulation that would allow industry and consumers to more easily understand their rights, obligations and the intent and effect of the law.'

Terms of reference

The Terms of reference are here.5

The three stage review will consider what changes to the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) and Corporations Regulations 2001 (Cth) could be implemented to 'simplify and rationalise the law'.

The ALRC has been asked to focus and to provide separate interim reports on three areas.

  1. Design and use of definitions: The ALRC has been asked to consider 'The use of definitions in corporations and financial services legislation, including: the circumstances in which it is appropriate for concepts to be defined, consistent with promoting robust regulatory boundaries, understanding and general compliance with the law; the appropriate design of legislative definitions; and the consistent use of terminology to reflect the same or similar concepts'.

  2. Legislative design and hierarchy: The ALRC has been asked to consider 'The coherence of the regulatory design and hierarchy of laws, covering primary law provisions, regulations, class orders, and standards, to examine: how legislative complexity can be appropriately managed over time; how best to maintain regulatory flexibility to clarify technical detail and address atypical or unforeseen circumstances and unintended consequences of regulatory arrangements; and how delegated powers should be expressed in legislation, consistent with maintaining an appropriate delegation of legislative authority'.

  3. Reframing of Chapter 7: The ALRC has been asked to consider 'how the provisions contained in Chapter 7 of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) and the Corporations Regulations 2001 (Cth) could be reframed or restructured so that the legislative framework for financial services licensing and regulation: is clearer, coherent and effective; ensures that the intent of the law is met; gives effect to the fundamental norms of behaviour being pursued; and provides an effective framework for conveying how the law applies to consumers and regulated entities and sectors'.

In conducting its review the ALRC is asked to consult widely with regulators, industry and other stakeholders and to have regard to existing reports, inquiries and any associated government responses to these including, among others, the Hayne Commission's Final Report and the government's response. The ALRC has also been asked to consult widely with regulators, industry and other stakeholders.

Reporting timeline

The due date for the final report is 30 November 2023. Interim reports will be provided progressively from 30 November 2021 as follows:

  • Interim report (Use of definitions): 30 November 2021
  • Interim report (Regulatory design and legislative hierarchy): 30 September 2022
  • Interim report (Reframing Chapter 7 of the Corporations Act): 25 August 2023

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